What is the greatest and most dangerous quality a human being can possess?
Hint: They’re the same thing. Any guesses?
I’m talking about faith; the great unifier and simultaneous dissolver—creating both friendships and estrangement rifts in strangers and families alike.
But it did not do this all on its own. No, for Faith eventually took on a mentor to guide it in how it should manifest; it’s younger, but more organized cousin: Religion. Its origins of which were based on Faith, which then somehow grew to be a (less than) sophisticated form of social control.
So began a new pairing, one that between the two, took to taking turns in unifying then dividing communities within human society, and then repeating the process over and over again. But why?
How does something that’s purpose was meant to help us reach a higher state of being—whether that be a state within ourselves or with our God(s), beings of whom represent creation, natural order and (in most cases) pure love, end up dividing us?
And how does faith–which is meant to empower us—end up binding us instead?
Because that is the catch 22 about faith…and why it truly is simultaneously one of the greatest and most dangerous qualities a human being can possess.
It can allow us to accomplish almost anything if we believe it to be possible, because it provides a deep sense of confidence for us to overcome obstacles; but the catch is that in order to do so we have to have near undeterrable faith.
Faith asks of us to believe, without necessarily being able to prove. It tells us that if we do, we will be protected; but as much as it will protect us, it can also leave us vulnerable to being led blindly astray into dogma…where we might no longer see or interpret things for ourselves.
Thus in having such deviant faith, we end up providing the mental alloy for our own shackles which are then used to bind us to other’s wars and personal vendettas. All of which typically goes against our own personal faith in the end.
Still, religion doesn’t decide it’s precedence in our lives—we do. We choose it by indulging our faith at a community level. We created the space within our faith and religion that allows ourselves to be taken advantage of.
Religion becomes a problem when it utilizes the blind faith of others to bring about harm.
With that in mind, I can completely understand why someone would choose for their self to be anti-religion, but I am not, for I do not see religion as the problem. I am however against public organized religion, because I feel that faith should be a personal journey, and not a blindly led group semblance to a cult.
If it was not, it would negate the issues of belief that people struggle with in trying to control the God of their neighbour.
As we humans are such a tribal species, we traded solitary spirituality and instead ended up pushing religion into our communities in a desire to connect.
I don’t blame people for doing so. Heck, I even understand the desire to! But our action instead resulted in a much greater disconnect from what we once sought.
We have allowed our arrogance to defeat our desire for community and faith and our fear of that which is different from our own divine image to distort our goal of morality. The problem roots from the fact that somewhere along the line our cultures ended up as a controlled by-product of this.
I feel that it is because of this that there is a rift between opposing spiritual beliefs, and why so many people shy away from exploring their own faith.
Religion in itself, even in its organized ideals is not inherently evil; at least not at the origin of its core goal. Many religions teach many a great lesson—about equally as many good things as they do bad, and heeding the moral advice of any, then using it to develop it personally is not the issue; but ignorance in faith is.
Religion itself can be seen as merely an outlet to experiment with and expand upon our faith, but only if we remain critical and scientific within our grounding beliefs.
Otherwise it is all too easy to become a martyr for the system that religion has become.
It’s sad that it has come to that, as faith really does do a lot of good for so many; as do many of the moral values and symbolism found within religion, as well as the scripts they so proudly tote… but too often those in positions of (religious or otherwise) leadership form a mob mentality structure around faith.
In doing so, they’ve spoiled an otherwise great thing.
Faith birthed Religion, both of which have played huge roles in developing entire cultures and civilizations to date. This is something that should neither be forgotten nor taken for granted, but to choose to remain ignorant to the obvious abuse between the two would be just as arrogant.
Over the course of their relationship, the pairing of Faith and Religion has grown to be a corrupted and tumultuous coupling, one that, like in any relationship that has run past its course now needs a divorce.
Religion has transitioned to be less and less about faith in order to become what it is now anyways, so I’d say now is the perfect time to separate the two.
Let people go back to being individuals who just so happen to believe in God, or HaShem, or Brahma (or any other vision unique to the individual’s needs), rather than being a person lost amongst the vast group of other Christians, or Mormons, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans or *insert other religious group here*.
The point is, they can be separated now, for we have developed enough belief systems around the world that people can pick and choose what encompasses their faith, and find their way with what resonates uniquely with them on their path of personhood and spirit.
That’s why religion should be kept as a personal endeavour, because while it is interesting to discuss and theorize about, and I love the historic culture and (without trying to offend anyone in calling it this) mythology that surrounds each, the majority of people are not ready to accept the differences with an open mind.
So while celebrating faith in the form of religion gives us a community to identify with, let us not forget that it also leaves us vulnerable to others if we allow it. Vulnerability can absolutely be synonymous to strength at times, but it should also be known that exposing your whole spirit will also leave it open for attack.
As much as I’d like to believe otherwise, sometimes people are simply stronger as individuals rather than unified as a whole—and when it comes to sense of self and the spirit, I believe that (at least at this age of human existence) this is one scenario in which we absolutely are.
Perhaps one day things will be otherwise, and we will all be free to represent our faith openly without fear of judgement (and without judging others ourselves). But for now, we’ll each believe what we want to believe, and let’s at least agree to be kind.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Wikipedia Commons